Life is full of surprises, some good and others not so good. The recent case of a young boy found nursing at the breast of a dog falls under the category of both of those surprises. While it is heartbreaking that this malnourished toddler was hungry enough to grab a swallow wherever he could find it, it is unbelievably heartwarming that a loving dog by the name of Reina was more than willing to oblige him. That's what happened in Arica, Chile, last week where this situation unfolded. Authorities are now looking into the exact circumstances of the incident and determining what, if any, charges will be brought against the child's mother.
While stories like these are thankfully far and few between, dogs adopting other animals and nurturing or befriending them are not that unusual. We've all heard or read about mismatched animals bonding, like elephants and dogs or ducks and cats. Often times the most unlikely of creatures can become best buds or take in another animal and care for it until it's old enough or well enough to survive on its own. Dogs nursing kittens, pigs, fawns, tiger cubs and other unrelated species may be fairly well documented, but they're not the only ones to find it in their heart to share their warmth and nourishment with those in need.
These nursing mothers and abandoned or orphaned infant stories among mammals give the catch phrase "Got milk?" a whole new meaning. Take the mama tiger that allowed a passel of piglets to nurse at her breasts or the pig that welcomed two hungry tiger cubs to suckle at her teats. Whales have been known to adopt orphaned calves, and there have even been cases of cats taking in and feeding baby rabbits — and, no, there's not a cabbit joke to follow. Females are traditionally more open minded and nurturing by nature, whether it be among animals or humans. That's why these touching stories should come as no surprise to most women.
Sometimes these adoptions take place after a mother has lost her young, and other times they have a teat to spare and I guess they figure "what's one more mouth to feed?" However it comes about, this type of life-saving fostering is extremely beneficial to the recipient, and we should all be glad it occurs. There's even been news of a cat that took in baby squirrels in need of the kind of nurturing only a lactating mother can give. While wet nurses among humans is nothing new, people could take a page from these animals and learn a thing or two about what it means to be completely selfless. Without these caring and compassionate feedings, undoubtedly most of these juveniles would fail to thrive.
While human beings might have good intentions when attempting to rescue an orphaned animal, other animals know how to care for them far better than we do — unless you're an expert, of course. Four-legged mamas instinctively know how to stimulate a baby's digestive system after feedings by licking their foster baby's tummies and other little tricks of the trade most of us humans would be hard pressed to even be aware of much less emulate. So, let's hear it for the giving creatures of the animal kingdom that go above and beyond the call of duty to make the world a better place for all.